Outreach and Education

"Flushable" Wipes and Sanitary Sewer Problems

Wipes, clothes, and rags are found in the sanitary system at increasing rates. Many of these products are labeled at "flushable" but while they may clear the toilet, they will most likely cuases issue downstream.
These products are becoming notorious for blocking private sewer laterals, public sewer mains, and binding up municipal pumps. Items that specifically list the term flushable (but should NOT be flushed) include diapers and diaper liners, baby wipes, pre-moistened wipes, a wide variety of bathroom cleaning wipes and brushes, feminine hygiene products, toilet seat covers, doggy doo bags, and cat litter.

Please avoid flushing these products down the sanitary system.


Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

FOG can cuase a multitude of problems if it enters the sanitary sewer system. FOG can cause sewer back-ups and service interuptions to customers leading to unnecessary environmental damage. FOG is caused primarily by food wastes that enter the sanitary sewer system through drains. Sources of FOG are Food Service Establishments (FSE) and residential dwellings.

Major Problems with FOG

  • Accumulation leades to system blockages
  • Increased sewer maintenance costs
  • Decreased useful life of the sanitary system
  • Creates pollution from potential sewer overflows
  • Environmental strain from increased water use

How to Avoid FOG

Prevention is the best approach when managing FOG. Many of the problems associated with FOG can be prevented by using Best Management Practices (BMPs). Keeping food wastes out of the sanitary system is the most effective way to manage FOG. This can easily be accomplished by avoiding the disposal of food wastes through household garbage disposals or any other drain system. FSEs can minimize FOG in the sanitary system by installing and maintaining grease traps. Grease traps are installed in the establishment's drain system and attempts to trap grease while allowing water to flow freely through the system.

Grease Trap Maintenance

Grease traps must be maintained in order to function properly. If grease traps are not maintained regularily, failure will result, leading to sewer blockages. You should peform routine inspections on a weekly basis to ensure the traps are working effectively. This simple BMP will ensure the trap is removing grease from the waste stream and helping to reduce FOG. Routine cleaning is fundemental to a proper functioning grease trap. The frequency of cleaning will be determined through the routine inspections. Each customer will need to determine this frequency based on their usage and type of business. An alternative to grease traps are great recycling containers. These containers also need to be properly maintained to ensure you FOG doesn't become a stormwater pollutant.

Prevention Tips

  • Do not dispose of food waste in garbage disposal
  • Do not pour grease down the sink
  • Install and maintain grease traps
  • Install drain screens on all drains
  • Train employees on proper disposal and maintenance methods
  • Display "NO GREASE" signage near drains
  • Remove all excess food prior to washing

By having a preventative care program in place you can save large unwanted costs. Implementing BMPs is the best approach and through the use of BMPs, owners and operators can avoid costly backups and higher user rates attributed by FOG. The sanitary system peforms best in the absence of FOG.

Please do your part to help eliminate Fats, Oils and Grease from the community's sanitary system.


Hazardous Product Awareness

Many of the products that are in your home or place of business require special disposal. Do not dispose of these products in the sanitary system. A few of these products are:

  • Batteries
  • Chemical Solvents
  • Flourescent Light Bulbs
  • Motor Oil
  • Paint and Paint Thinner
  • Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers
  • Unused Medication

For a complete list please visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.


Unused Pharmaceuticals - Take it to THE BOX!

Propely dispose of your unused medication to prevent misuse/abuse and contamination of nearby lakes, rivers, streams, and other waterways. Our community is serious about preventing misuse and about environmentally safe disposal of medication. The sanitary system can't effectively treat medications in the waste stream prior to discharge.

  • Leave medication in the original container
  • Remove your name and personal information
  • Keep the name of the medication on the container
  • Drop into the disposal box

THE BOX is located at:

Steele County Law Enforcement Center

204 E. Pearl St

Owatonna, MN 55060


Blooming Prairie City Hall

138 Hwy Ave S

Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

For more information contact 507-676-0984


Triclosan and Wastewater Treatment

Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It can be found in many products such as antibacterial soaps, bodywash, toothpaste, kitchenware, furniture, and toys. Research has found that concentrations of triclosan present in the wastewater stream can destabilize the microbial communities that help treat sewage solids. The omnipresent antimicrobial can sabotage some sludg-processing microbes and promote drug resistance in others.

Warm water and mild soap is really all you need to remove bacteria from yourself. Help prevent unwanted triclosan from entering our nearby waterbodies.


Additional Resources